Activities & Projects

ValueNano: Methodology for estimating, in monetary terms, the benefits of nanotechnology

This project, entitled 'Methodology for estimating, in monetary terms, the benefits of nanotechnology', addresses this issue by developing a methodology to quantify the value of a nanotechnology in comparison to conventional product. The methodology is flexible, enabling specific geographic regions or industry sectors to be analysed in order to identify where the monetary benefit of the nanotechnology resides. It  also describes how the benefits are apportioned between users, manufacturers and the wider economy/environment. To simplify the methodology, various proxies and assumptions have been explored, in order to reduce the need to gather large amounts of information. 

The project the results and findings will be presented to the OECD Working Party on Nanotechnology (WPN) to encourage developing a consistent methodology for valuing nanotechnology.

The Nanotechnology Industries Association (NIA) was a key-contributor to the project (entitled 'Valuing Nanotechnologies'; the NIA provided economic insight and provided industrial case-studies to the project.

The project resulted in a series of reports:

  • The main project report, entitle 'A comparative methodology for estimating the economic value of innovation in nanotechnologies' details a methodology to perform a comparative valuation between a nano-enabled product and an incumbent product that is currently on the market. This methodology is comparative, thus the relative benefit of the nano-enabled product is assessed against a current incumbent product which it may replace and is not an absolute assessment of the value of a nano-enabled product. The methodology calculates the value over a set timeframe, exploring the benefits to the consumer and producer, as well as the wider benefits to society.
  • 'A working guide for determining the value of nanotechnology innovation' a simpler document designed for non-economists to make less rigorous calculation; it has been designed for use by:
    • Policy makers and governments, to perform costs benefit analysis
    • Industry, to estimate the social benefits of a product i.e. to compare against any potential risks
    • Funders, e.g. Research Councils and the UK Technology Strategy Board, to impartially appraise the relative benefits of proposals in allocating funding.
  • This guide should be used along with the spreadsheet in MS Excel format, entitled 'A calculation spreadsheet for valuing nanotechnology', which is designed to accompany the working guide.
  • The document entitled 'Methodology Case-Studies' provides a series of case-studies that use the methodology for valuing nano-enabled products relevant to DEFRA; it describes three example case-studies for valuing nano-enabled products using this new methodology. These case-studies have been chosen to give further guidance in the practical application of the methodology. The reader is directed to the methodology document ('A comparative methodology for estimating the economic value of innovation in nanotechnologies') for background and further guidance on the techniques described here.
  • 'Nanotechnologies relevant to DEFRA' is a short literature review to identify nanotechnologies that are relevant under DEFRA's remit; it gives an overview of the current and possible future applications of nanotechnology relevant to DEFRA. The areas relevant to DEFRA include: Adapting to climate change, Animal diseases, Animal welfare, Atmospheric quality and industrial pollution, Biodiversity, Farming, Floods, Local environmental pollution/noise, Marine, People and landscapes, Rural development, Soils, Sustainable consumption and production, Sustainable development, Waste, Water, and Wildlife and countryside. 
    In order to give an estimate of the possible impact of nanotechnology, either the market size for the incumbent technology is stated or, where available, the current and future market projections of the nano-enabled product. 
    Three products have been valued using the developed methodology, the results of which are contained in the separate 'Methodology Case-Studies' document:
    • nano-Fe(0) used in land remediation
    • marine anti-fouling paint
    • gas sensors to monitor atmospheric quality
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